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Ohio State University Extension


Protecting Hands and Fingers

Small Farm and Gardening Safety and Health Series
Agriculture and Natural Resources
S. Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor and State Safety Leader, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Jeffery Suchy, Graduate Student and Lecturer, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

The work performed by farmers and gardeners often presents opportunities for hand and finger injury. Tools, equipment, machinery and heavy objects all can pose hazards if care is not taken. To help avoid injury, examine the job site and equipment for danger zones. All pinch, crush and cut points should have guards or safety shields whenever possible. Avoid placing hands or fingers where damage or injury can occur.

Identifying Hazards

Identify the pinch, crush and cut points on machinery, tools, equipment and stored or transported materials.
Pinch points are created when one or more objects or machinery parts move counter to another part. Example: Gears and chains, pulleys and belts, tiller tines and frame, loader bucket and arms.
Crush points occur when two objects move toward each other, or when one moving object collides with a stationary object, crushing a body part between them. Example: Use of three-point mounted implements or a front-end loader on a tractor. The area between the ground and the implement is the crush point when operating or attaching implements.
Cut points occur when an object moves or rotates fast enough to cut through tissue. Example: Blades and machined edges, such as on a weed trimmer or a mower.

Pinch Point (front-end loader) Crush Points (tractor implements) Cut Points (flail mower)


Preventing Hand and Finger Injuries

Allow rotating parts to come to a stop before working on them:
• Do not use your fingers to retrieve objects from saw blades, knife blades or parts moving together.
• Do not use your fingers to retrieve dirt or other objects from rotating parts of machinery, such as the blades on a rototiller.
Perform maintenance only when the tool or machinery is not in operation:
• Use the lockout/tagout procedure during maintenance. If the guards are removed to perform maintenance, replace them immediately after servicing.
Know when to wear gloves:
• Wear gloves if your hands will be exposed to hazards causing cuts, scrapes, or temperature/chemical burns.
• Do not wear gloves around reciprocating or rotating machinery. Gloves can get caught in the device and draw in your hand, which can cause serious injury.
Handle sharp or pointed tools carefully:
• These types of tools include but are not limited to hatchets, pruning shears, punches, knives, pitchforks and machine blades.
Be aware of hot and cold surfaces:
• Do not use your hands or fingers to test the temperature of a liquid or a solid surface.
• Let engines and other hot parts on machinery cool down before performing maintenance.
Do not wear rings when operating or repairing machinery, or performing electrical work:
• Machinery should be operated as designed and within specified limitations.


• Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Machine Guarding. Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor, n.d.
• Willsey, F.R. Beware of Machine Hazards. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, n.d.

Reviewer: Kent McGuire, CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Originally posted Nov 13, 2015.